Whether you’re a brand new mom or a seasoned one, sleep is something we all crave. The months shortly after having a baby are the worst for sleep deprivation and there’s usually no avoiding it. But once you’ve got baby into a good routine and you’ve settled into motherhood a bit better, you can start to focus on how to reclaim all your lost hours of sleep.
Mom of two and freelance writer, Lisa Smalls, shares some tips on how to reclaim your sleep after having a baby.
Having a new baby will be one of the greatest feelings in your life, however, that thrill can be quickly replaced with the fatigue, lack of focus, anxiety and an increased temper all due to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is acquiring fewer than the seven-plus recommended hours of sleep each night. While newborn babies can sleep 16 to 20 hours each day, those hours are stretched into bursts which are often inconveniently disturbed when the parent is trying to sleep.
On average, a mother in the first three months after having a baby can lose between one and two hours of sleep each night and for both parents they can experience sleep deprivation for up to six years after the birth. While some people can get an adequate amount of sleep at six hours, most need between seven and nine, so those critical couple hours of loss after childbirth can make a big impact on your quality of sleep, especially considering the hours you do get are broken up into two-hour segments dictated by the baby’s fits.
Your body requires not only that you receive seven hours, but also that those hours are subsequent to each other and they are quality sleep. Sleep is the way your body processes thoughts, emotions, memories and helps your body relax and repair. Without consistent sleep your body does not have the ability to process and file all of your information or process it correctly. This leads to a haze during the day resulting in fatigue, lack of focus, lack of motivation, mood swings and anxiety. In turn, these symptoms lead to additional insomnia. So, when your baby is sleeping at night, you may not be able to. It is a vicious cycle.
As your baby ages, additional challenges such as potty training, nightmares, and the concerns of your growing toddler and an active imagination result in sleep deprivation. Though the sleep deprivation you will likely experience as your child ages may not be as complicated as those first few months, it also provides the same symptoms.
So, what can a parent (especially a mother) do to reclaim sleep after giving birth? Here are five tips.
Create a routine for you and the baby
Okay, to be fair your baby is probably not going to pay attention to a routine in the beginning. But, with practice and commitment a routine can help your baby sleep in longer bouts and learn to sleep so that after four months your baby may actually sleep through the entire night. Routine is good and setting a sleep routine such as bath, reading, cuddling, and sleep will be a great payback for the future.
This is such an important factor in helping you sleep that you should keep a sign on your refrigerator as a reminder. After having a baby friends and family will practically tackle each other to offer help and cuddle with that little cutie. But, parents are often unwilling to accept the help. This may be from guilt or simply because it is difficult allowing someone else (including mom) to watch your baby without you there. But, whether someone offers to watch your baby a couple hours, help with the chores, or just hang out to give you a little break, it all pays off.
Keep the baby near you (but not in your bed)
A nursery is great, but it might be better after the six-month mark. In those first months your baby will wake up every couple hours and one way to miss out on sleep is that long walk to the nursery to feed. SIDS is a serious concern and one of the biggest no-no’s is letting your newborn sleep in bed with you. So, whether you have a crib or bassinet in the room keeping your baby close will help you feed without too much hassle.
Don’t worry about the dishes
Having a baby does not mean you have lost your old life, but it does mean you need to adjust going forward. That might mean that if you were emphatic about getting all the chores done and having a spotless house, those chores just might have to wait until you are having a nice relaxing day as the kids play with the grandparents. This does not mean you should live like a hoarder but prioritizing your sleep over missing a night of sweeping the floor, means you should really get your zzz’s.
Lisa is a mom of two and freelance writer from North Carolina. She regularly writes for the sleep health website Mattress Advisor, which has taught her so much about the importance of sleep (especially as a working mom). When she isn’t working on commissions, she loves connecting, encouraging and learning with other parents through her writing.
New moms often find themselves in a vulnerable state – physically and emotionally.
Unfortunately, many people don’t see the vulnerability of a new mom’s spirit and inadvertently do things to harm it. Offering unsolicited advice, judging a new mom’s parenting choices, or making her feel incapable in any way can all do damage to a mother’s mental and emotional health.
Jess shares some of her experiences as a new mom, feeling judged and made to second guess her choices. She talks about how dangerous it can be to do anything but support a new mom. New moms don’t need us to tell them what to do, because we all figure it out eventually. What they do need is a community of people who they trust and can go to for advice when they need it.
So the next time you see a new mom struggling, don’t give her unsolicited advice.
It really isn’t that hard to not judge other moms. Whatever your excuse might be, it does not matter. Whether you are from the older generation where you did things differently, or maybe it’s because the way you opted to do things worked for you, you assume it’s the only way.
But when you give unsolicited advice to a new mom, the only thing that she will take away from your statement is that she is not doing a good job.
When I had my first child, I felt so prepared. I was ready. I read the books. I went to the classes. My husband and I had talked endlessly on how we wanted to raise our children. We talked about what was important to us, our family values and the importance we placed on everything from Montessori toys to how we felt about screen time. I knew we were in for a huge adventure as we became parents, and as scary as it was, I felt like “yes, I can do this!”
And then you came along. Someone who obviously knew more than either my husband or I when it came to raising our own child. Everything I did received criticism or was questioned. Maybe you felt entitled to say it because you are older than me, or you had raised a child of your own.
I honestly don’t know what triggered it, but I started to hate you. I had a newborn baby and I was exhausted. Sure, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I 100% knew better than you did when it came to the well-being of MY baby.
This was not just one person, it was several people. Maybe I was just overly sensitive, but you don’t know how the words you said to me affected me. I would cry in the car on the drive home because your unsolicited advice made me feel inadequate. I cringed at the thought of seeing you and even avoided gatherings that I knew you would be at.
That unhelpful, toxic energy was not good for my soul.
I was so new into motherhood and I was not prepared for the unsolicited advice that was being thrown at me left and right. I did not know then, as I do now, how much I would have to protect my spirit so I would not be broken.
Motherhood is heavy, oh so heavy, and the weight of it can crush you.
People feel as if they have the right to give you unsolicited advice because you NEED it. I was fortunate that I never went through the darkness of postpartum depression. But having someone question or belittle me when it came to making decisions about this perfect little human that I shared a bond with, was one of the most frustrating things I have experienced as a mother.
As a practice of self-care, I developed a circle of support. I now surround myself with people I love and trust and can turn to at any minute of the day when I need my spirits lifted. I could also feel my “motherly intuition” grow stronger as my baby grew. I knew when she was hungry or tired. I could sense her emotions and I grew confident in my abilities.
Now, fast forward five years down the road and another baby later, I do not let what other people say get to me when it comes to parenting. Yes, I let my kids watch YouTube Kids and occasionally have a lollipop with their breakfast. But I know I am a good mom to my kids and I have stopped comparing myself, or my kids, to anyone else.
So while the same people might still make the same sly comments every now and then and offer their unsolicited advice, I have learned to just smile, nod and hum Backstreet Boys songs in my head until they stop talking.
Here is my advice to all the new moms out there.
No one knows how to take care of your baby better than you. It will be hard to remember at first, but eventually you will find that mama bear spirit lying deep within.
And to all the well meaning people out there who have so many words of wisdom or “helpful” comments, here is some advice for you: unless you are directly asked for advice about something, all you need to say is… repeat after me…
Putting effort into our outward appearance is not a sign of vanity. It has a significant impact on how we feel inside.
Being happy means aiming to both look and feel good, but it’s not always easy to do. For mothers, how we look is not always representative of how we feel (and other times it is all too accurate).
We may feel young and sexy and full of life but we look tired, worn out and as though we’ve given up on ourselves. Or alternatively, we may feel like we’re dying on the inside, so we overcompensate by layering on makeup to give the appearance that “everything is fine.”
This spring, as the weather begins to warm up, we should challenge ourselves to match how we look with how we feel.
Start From The Inside
How we look on the outside all begins with how we feel on the inside.Self esteem comes from within and if we are happy with who we are, it shows in a physical way. If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or substance overuse, then the first place to start is therapy.
Working with a therapist, either in person or online, can help you manage everything that is creating self-doubt or a poor self image. Online therapy in particular, is extremely convenient, especially for moms.
Schedule your online or video therapy sessions over the winter, ensuring that you get the most out of spring and summer.
Focus on Health
Weight issues are some of the most common hurdles to looking and feeling good. As mothers, we’ve stretched and shrunk, been cut open, torn apart and pieced back together. Our bodies have changed in so many ways and it can be difficult to accept it as it is now.
One way to look and feel good is to forget about the extra skin on our stomachs or how much we weigh and just focus on being healthy. Exercising to stay healthy is different than exercising to lose weight or tone muscle. Don’t worry about counting calories or inches, just try to eat healthier food and incorporate vitamins and nutritional supplements to avoid deficiencies.
If our main focus is on being “healthy” rather than being “fit” there is less pressure on us to meet certain goals and we can learn to love our bodies again.
In addition to being healthy, we also need to feel strong. Strength comes in many different forms. We can train ourselves to be physically strong by joining a gym, lifting weights, swimming, or playing a sport. It’s important to find emotional and mental strength, as well. Try meditation, journaling, art or aromatherapy.
Being strong, both physically and mentally will inspire confidence and a sense of pride in ourselves.
Make a Statement
Your outward appearance tells the world about you, so what is it you want to say? Make a statement with your appearance by choosing clothing and accessories that speak to you. This “Be Kind” Necklace is a simple and elegant way to remind yourself and others of the power of kindness (get 15% off with code FRIENDS15).
Clothing lines like Shine The Light On create pieces that help raise awareness about mental health. Modern, minimalist messages imprinted on soft, luxurious fabrics make it simple to spread messages of hope and acceptance wherever you go.
In addition to looking good while making a statement, a portion of the proceeds from the Shine The Light On collection goes towards mental health initiatives – so you can also feel good knowing that you are helping to end the stigma of mental illness.
Click here to see the stunning clothing line from Shine The Light On and get 15% off with coupon code RUNINTRIANGLES15
Take Care of Your Skin
You don’t need to do your hair and makeup to look and feel good this spring, but you should always take care of your skin. Glowing, healthy skin looks good from the outside and can make a person feel good on the inside.
As mothers, when we feel over-cuddled and overstimulated after a long day, it’s our skin and sense of touch that suffers. This is why caring for our skin plays such an important role in how we look and feel. Plus, the act of massaging lotion onto our skin can stimulate our lymphatic system and help keep our bodies healthy from the inside.
So splurge on a good, all natural skin care line to make sure that you’re not coating your skin in chemicals. Soak in a bath filled with Epsom salts to help soften and relax your muscles. Use sunscreen all year round, especially when you plan to spend longer amounts of time outdoors.
Try a new look this spring. Cut or color your hair, try out a new clothing style or color that you would never normally wear. Get a piercing or tattoo, eyelash extensions, permanent makeup or micro-bladed eyebrows. You don’t need to go so far as getting plastic surgery, but if there are specific problem areas that have always bothered you, then consider booking an appointment with a doctor or dermatologist to discuss your options.
Don’t be afraid of change, though it might take some time to get used to. Only make changes that are truly something you want to do, and never in an effort to please anyone else or be someone other than yourself. Changing something about your outward appearance can make you feel mysterious, spontaneous and empowered.
Deciding to change something about your appearance should remind you that you are in control of your body and what happens to it.
Comfortable Is Beautiful
“The mom look” is normally one associated with comfort and function. But comfortable can also be beautiful so don’t feel like you need to trade one for the other. It is entirely possible to look good and feel comfortable at the same time, as long as you choose the right pieces.
If you feel uncomfortable in your clothing, whether it’s shoes that pinch or a waistband that’s too tight, you will act uncomfortably. So just bite the bullet and get rid of anything that you hate wearing, no matter how expensive or “designer” it might be.
Being comfortable in your own skin is the best way to show the world your confidence and beauty.
Moms are hardworking and give all of themselves to their children and families… but at what cost?
While these are qualities that everyone admires about mothers, they often come at a cost. A mother who works endlessly to provide for the needs of her children can often forget to take care of herself. A mother’s mental health, in addition to her physical well being, is so important because moms definitely cannot afford to take sick days.
Many mothers don’t even realize some of the things they are doing to harm their mental health. It’s easy to fall into “survival mode” and not think about anything other than just making it through to the end of the day. Some of the things we do each day to survive, whether intentionally or not, can have a negative impact on our mental health.
Here are a few things many moms do that can actually harm their mental health.
Forget to Eat
This one is at the top of the list because it’s something all moms are guilty of. We get busy preparing meals for the kids and when we try to sit down to eat our own food, someone spills something, or wants seconds or needs ketchup. Moms may have every intention of eating a full meal while it’s still hot, but it rarely ever happens. And when it does, it probably consists of sandwich crusts with a side of half eaten fish sticks.
Good nutrition is important for maintaining our mental health. Many symptoms of depression and anxiety worsen when our bodies experience vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. By forgetting to eat throughout the day, it’s easy to fall into the unhealthy habit of binge-eating at night, which can cause feelings of guilt and contribute to depression.
Don’t let bad eating habits harm your mental health. Eat healthy and use supplements to make sure your body is getting enough energy.
Go to Bed Late
It’s no secret that moms are always tired. Raising kids is exhausting work, both physically and mentally, and it requires a good amount of sleep that we often don’t get. But even the most sleep deprived mom is sometimes guilty of staying up way past bedtime.
After the kids are in bed is sometimes the only chance a mother gets to herself all day. Whether it’s catching up on recorded TV shows, scrolling through social media or just enjoying the peace and quiet, we never want it to end. But staying up late is a habit that does a lot of harm to our mental health.
Actual phone calls are becoming more of a rare occurrence in this modern world. Plus, everyone knows that the kids think “mom’s on the phone” translates to “scream as loud as you can.” A text message is so much more convenient for a mother and it’s the preferred way of communicating. So when our phone rings, it’s instinctual that we silence our phone and ignore the call.
Of course, it all depends on who the call is from, but if it’s a friend, don’t ignore it. Talking to someone on the phone can be therapeutic and mean so much more than a simple text message. Mental illness works by isolating us from others, so being able to connect with someone on a real, human level is important for keeping us sane.
The next time someone calls you, just answer it.
Avoid Looking in Mirrors
This is kind of a weird one, and I bet you don’t even realize that you do it (or don’t do it). If you’re a stay at home mom, chances are you probably haven’t changed out of your sweat pants in three days. Maybe you forgot to brush your teeth this morning and you can’t even remember the last time you washed your hair. You may avoid looking at yourself in the mirror for fear of what you might see.
Avoiding a mirror means that we’ve created an idea of what we look like in our minds and it’s one that we feel unhappy with. This idea can lead us down a path to poor self-esteem and lowered confidence levels, an environment in which mental illness thrives.
All you have to do to maintain your mental health is look at yourself in the mirror at least once a day, and find something that you love about what you see.
Skip Doctor Appointments
The doctor, dentist, therapist, optometrist, chiropractor, etc. – we haul the kids around to regular appointments and yet procrastinate our own. Pregnancy means doctor appointments so frequently that we get to know the staff in our OB’s office on a personal basis. We cared about those because they were important for the well being of our child, which is one of our biggest priorities.
I’m sure we can all come up with a hundred excuses as to why we do this. It costs money we may not have and it’s hard to find time to attend these appointments without the kids. But this act of self-sacrifice is dangerous for both our mental and physical health.
Try booking all your checkups for the year in advance so that you can make whatever arrangements you need to in order to attend them.
Depend Too Much On Coffee/Wine/Advil
Addiction is not something that’s spoken about enough among mothers. We tend to think of addicts as people living on the streets, wasting their lives away. But addiction can happen to anyone, and at different levels of intensity.
Caffeine, alcohol and medications are common addictions among mothers. And while it may not be at a point where they are destroying our lives, we’re unsure how we would function without them. Relying too heavily on coffee or needing that glass of wine to help us relax at the end of the day are all forms of addiction. Addictive behaviors are something we should try to avoid for better mental health.
Try to limit how much you depend on stimulants to make it through the day and choose healthier options that are better for your mental health.
Pile Things in a Closet
You know which closet I’m talking about, everyone has one (or four) in their home that’s filled with junk. If you’re not sure where to put something, pile it in a closet until you get to it, right? But you’ll probably only get to it when that closet is so full that you can’t even open it anymore.
Clutter can weigh heavily on our minds, destroying our mental health in the long run. Knowing that we have a closet filled with junk, being unsure of what exactly is in there, and putting off cleaning it out can make us feel depressed and unproductive. You don’t need to go full minimalist, but avoiding hidden clutter is a good place to start.
Spring cleaning time is nearly upon us, so make those junk-filled closets a priority.
Shop Only For the Kids
Not only are kids fun to shop for, but they also need a LOT of stuff. They grow so fast that it’s hard to keep up with their sizes. And if you’re like me, then you live vicariously through them and buy things that you would have loved to have as a kid. But then what happens is that you have kids who look like children of celebrities and you get mistaken for their nanny.
So make a shopping trip alone and don’t you dare wander into the kids section!
Avoid the Outdoors
Whether it’s the cold weather or your greasy hair keeping you indoors, it’s doing harm to your mental health. Our bodies need fresh air and sunshine, they literally cannot function properly without it. If you think the trip from the house to the car and back again is enough, it’s not.
It’s not just about the fresh air, though, otherwise you could just open a window. You need to talk to people, make eye contact, feel their touch and smile at them. Find space to move your body – run, walk, swim, whatever makes you feel good. A change of scenery and some time outdoors is the easiest way to improve your mood.
So make it a habit to get outdoors at least once a day, and twice on weekends.
Put up with Negative People
You don’t need negative energy in your life, especially if your mental health is already suffering. However, cutting people out of your life is easier said than done. You don’t need to be rude to anyone, make a big deal out of it or even say anything at all. Just avoid spending time with people who cause you to feel stressed.
It could be the mother of your child’s friend who constantly tries to “one-up” you. Or maybe it’s that pessimistic family member who makes you worry about everything happening in the world. Don’t feel obligated to socialize with people who’s negative attitude affects your mental health.
Distance yourself from the negative people in your life, and surround yourself with those you love instead.
Compare Themselves to Others
You will never experience peace of mind if you’re constantly comparing yourself to others. This is especially common among the parenting community, despite the fact that all children and parenting styles are different.
It can be difficult on our mental health to see others doing well when we are clearly struggling. But remember that people are more inclined to share their success stories, than they are their struggles. This explains the stigma surrounding mental illness and the reason why so many mothers don’t talk about it.
Speak openly about real motherhood and all the struggles that come with it. And encourage others to do the same.
Our mental health struggles evolve with the seasons.
Throughout the year, our mental health will go through a series of highs and lows. Whether you’ve been struggling with seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety or another mental illness, you may find that it’s worse at different times throughout the year. In order to improve your mental health, you must consider all the different factors that each season brings.
Here are some ways that you can improve your mental health this year, broken down by months.
The first step to improve your mental health throughout the entire year is to start with a plan. You only have to plan out as much or as little of your year as you’re comfortable with. The simplest way to do this is with a calendar of the full year. You can choose a large desk calendar, a smaller personal calendar, an agenda or a bullet journal.
Start by filling in all your important dates. Write down everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, work schedules and appointments. If you have a vacation coming up this summer, write it on the calendar in great big bold letters! Don’t forget to schedule in your self-care time!
Then, make a list of goals you hope to achieve and put the dates you want to reach them on your calendar. Think outside the box when it comes to your goals, don’t be afraid to celebrate the small wins. For example, if insomnia is a problem for you, then set a goal to get one straight week of decent sleep. Keep your calendar somewhere you can see it every single day, and don’t forget to update it each month with new tasks and goals.
Having a plan in place, with attainable goals, will help you feel more organized and confident and ultimately improve your mental health.
Finally, the last of the winter months! Take some time this month to embrace the cold weather before it’s gone and enjoy all things warm and cozy. The Scandinavians refer to this practice as “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah).
The cold and darkness of the winter months can have a strong effect on our mental health, especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder. But knowing that spring is right around the corner can bring a glimmer of hope and actually improve our mental health.
So celebrate the end of winter by getting in one last fire in the fireplace, drink all the hot cocoa and stay in bed as long as you want.
It’s time for some spring cleaning! But I’m not talking about dishes and laundry and other everyday tasks. One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to get rid of all the junk piling up in your living space. Decluttering your environment is a great way to declutter your mind as well.
Take a few tips from Marie Kondo and organize your spaces. Clean out your closets, drawers and cupboards. Get rid of anything that doesn’t have a purpose or bring you joy. Sort through your paperwork and try to go digital wherever possible.
You don’t need to go full minimalist, but having clean, organized spaces can do wonders for your overall mental health.
With the arrival of spring, it’s the perfect time to try out your green thumb. Gardening is a form of ecotherapy that can help to improve your mental health. Escaping to your garden can be a form of self care, and there are many indoor plants that offer great health benefits.
Gardening is also an activity you can opt to do with the kids. Not only do they love playing in the dirt, but they can learn so much about the environment and where food comes from. If you have picky eaters, they’ll be more likely to eat vegetables that they’ve watched grow in their garden.
Plant some seeds this month and you’ll have something to occupy your mind all summer. Watching your seedlings grow will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment that will boost your mood and self confidence.
Warm weather is just around the corner, so it’s time to pamper that dry winter skin. Our skin and sense of touch has a big impact on our mental health. That’s why we can feel so overwhelmed and frazzled when we’ve been over-touched all day by our kids.
For months, our skin has been exposed to harsh temperatures, covered up and neglected. It’s time to book a spa day or massage and facial or even just plan some DIY pampering at home. Try out a new summer hairstyle, get a pedicure before breaking out the flip flops and switch to a lighter makeup routine for summer.
Focusing on your outward appearance can boost your confidence and improve your mental health.
Finally, the world is bright and green again. Spend as much time outdoors as possible this month. Your body has been deprived of Vitamin D, sunshine and fresh air for months, so get as much of it in as possible.
Go for a walk, run, hike or bike ride. Outdoor activities often feel less like exercise than going to the gym, and exercise is so important for maintaining your mental health.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to get your bikini body ready, either. Hang up a hammock, dust off your patio chairs or lie right on the grass and relax, completely guilt free. Even having your lunch or morning coffee outside will do wonders to improve your mental health.
You made it through the winter so sit back and enjoy the warmth and sunshine while you can.
Do you remember summer vacation as a kid? If you have fond memories of summer camp, beach days, camping trips or playing from sun up to sun down, then embrace that and be a kid again this month.
Plan some camping trips or beach days. Swim as often as you can, no matter what you look like in your bathing suit. Head to the splash parks and let loose. Take up a new sport that you’ve always to try. Channel your inner child and just have some good old-fashioned summer fun. Don’t forget to take a ton of pictures and maybe even put it together in an album to look at each year.
When you’re battling a mental illness, it’s probably been a long time since you had any real fun. Remembering a happy time from your childhood can help to improve your mental health in the simplest way.
This month, it’s time to focus on something that’s so important for our mental health, but often neglected. Our support system A.K.A. our friends. It’s not unusual to withdraw from society while battling a mental illness but what we don’t realize at the time is how important it is to have a strong support system around us. So focus on those friends this month.
Host a backyard BBQ or plan a group camping trip. Only invite the people you want to spend time with and don’t feel obligated to invite anyone who brings negativity into your life. If you’re not ready to be that social yet, then aim for a night out with a couple friends that you’ve been meaning to connect with.
Get out of your comfort zone a little bit this month, dust off your social skills and strengthen your social circle.
Back to school season means that everyone is learning something new, so why shouldn’t you? September is a great month to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill.
Think of something that you’ve always wanted to do. You could start making sushi, learn calligraphy or take a photography class. The possibilities are truly endless. Check Pinterest, a local hobby store or your bucket list for more inspiration.
Distracting the mind with learning something new can improve your mental health by working your brain in a different way. Doing something artistic, such as painting, is a great way of expressing any bottled up emotions you may be harboring. And choosing something physical, like a new sport, can help to burn off any pent up energy.
Our minds love a challenge, so put your brain to work this month.
Just like that, the warmer weather is coming to an end. This can bring a sense of doom and gloom, even if you don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder. The thought of winter coming back again, plus the added stress of the holidays can have a severe effect on anyone’s mental health.
It’s a way to remind yourself that you are in control of your own happiness.
Prioritizing yourself doesn’t make you a selfish person. You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. With the holiday season coming up, your focus is going to shift to your family and friends and making the holidays memorable.
The most expensive part of the year is upon us. Now is a good time to have a look at your bills and budget and meet with a financial advisor. Fellow mom and Winnipeger, Sandi Huynen, knows what it’s like. Check out her website for more information.
This can be a stressful month for many different reasons: the financial strain, the stress of Christmas shopping, the long list of events, and anyone who has lost a loved one will miss them especially around the holidays.
One of the best ways to improve your mental health this month is to scale things down. There is a lot of pressure, especially on mothers, to make Christmas memorable. Mostly because, when we look back at our happiest memories – they are at Christmastime and we want that for our children as well.
But it’s not about the size of the tree or the gifts. It’s not about how many crafts or activities or advent calendars there are. The things we remember most about the holidays is getting together with everyone.
If you want to improve your mental health, scale back the holiday decorations and festivities and focus more on enjoying time with family.
When you’re a mom, it’s very easy to devote all your time and energy to parenting. Children have a lot of needs, especially when they’re younger. And although their needs tend to be time sensitive and consuming, using the right self care strategies can ensure that you make yourself a priority. It’s important to be selfless, but it’s also crucial that you find the time to look after number one.
Here are some helpful self-care strategies that moms should remember.
*This is a collaborative post* *This post contains affiliate/paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.
Stress is a very common problem faced by parents. Sleep deprivation, having to be on the go all the time and feeling like you never have enough hours in the day can all increase the risk of stress. Other factors, such as relationship worries, money problems and trying to balance work and parenthood may also play a part.
If you’re struggling with stress, the one of the best self care strategies is to try and work out exactly what is bothering you and causing you to feel on edge. Often, there are practical solutions.
Take the example of managing your money. If you’re finding it tough to get by from month to the next, or you’re trying to figure out ways to boost your credit score to get a mortgage, or you’re attempting to pay off debt, there are steps you can take. It’s useful to see a financial adviser, to start budgeting, and to use services like my fico to monitor your credit score.
There are myriad causes of stress, but if you let them take hold of you, even the most innocuous-seeming problem can spiral into something all-consuming. Learn to spot signs of stress, and try and manage it before it gets worse. Everyone is different, but popular self-care strategies include exercise, meditation, and creative activities.
Taking time out
It’s no lie that parenting is a full-time job. Even when kids are fast asleep, as a parent you’re still thinking about them and probably worrying about them too. Children do take up a lot of time, but there’s always room in the day for a bit of ‘me time’ too.
Make sure you take advantage of breaks. Schedule in half an hour to do yoga, an hour to catch up with friends or a night off from time to time to go out with your partner. It’s so important to be able to have that time out to recharge your batteries, relax, and connect with others without the kids in tow.
We all love our children, but there’s no harm in having a breather now and again. Scheduling some alone time is one of the most important self care strategies a mom can do.
Doing what makes you happy
When you become a parent, you tend to focus on what makes your kids happy, but try not to lose sight of what perks you up or brings a smile to your face. None of these self care strategies even matter unless they’re bringing you joy.
It’s crucial to work on your mental health and to find time to pursue hobbies and interests, engage in social activities and enjoy time doing things you love. Whether you like reading, painting, writing, dancing, or running, give yourself time to do what makes you content.
As a mom, you probably spend most of your time looking after your children. While they may feel like your number one priority, remember that you are still responsible for taking care of yourself too. And you will only be able to take care of them if you also take care of yourself.
Writing about scary thoughts and feelings has several great benefits for a mother struggling from a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.
And what better outlet than to start blogging about postpartum depression? Thanks to modern technology it is easier to start a blog now, than ever before. And with all the choices available, you can choose whether you’d like to remain private or whether you’d like your voice to be heard around the world.
Blogging about postpartum depression not only has benefits for a suffering mother. It’s also an excellent way to help raise awareness about maternal mental health and break down the stigma that exists around it. The more women who are speaking up about postpartum depression and other mood disorders following childbirth, the better.
If you’re interested in learning how to start your own mental health blog and speak your truth, here is a quick tutorial on how to start blogging about postpartum depression.
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.
Shortly after I was officially diagnosed with postpartum depression, my husband, toddler, infant and I packed up all our belongings and moved 900 kms away from our hometown. We left behind all our friends and family and had no idea how difficult our lives would be over the next few years.
If there is one thing that a woman with postpartum depression desperately needs, it’s a good support system… and I just didn’t have one.
I moved to a small town where I knew no one, had no job or prospect of one, had no babysitters or daycare arrangements and was a good three hour drive from a major city. Isolated and alone, my postpartum depression grew worse with each passing day.
But there was one thing I knew that I could do, even if I had no one to talk to. I could write about it.
That’s how I started blogging about postpartum depression.
I started my first blog using a free Blogger account because I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t thinking about making money or getting followers – I just wanted to write about what I was feeling and share my story.
At first, I didn’t write about postpartum depression. I needed a way to work up to that. I wrote about other random things that my kids did or things I learned along my parenting journey. Eventually, I got a new job and made some new friends and I started to feel more confident.
So one day, I sat down at my computer and I poured out my story. 100 edits later, I published it to my blogger account and shared it on Facebook for all to see.
I was overwhelmed by the response. I started to get messages, both from close friends offering words of encouragement and support, and from contacts whom I barely knew, confiding in me about their own struggle with postpartum depression. One of my new friends in my new town saw me the next day and told me that she cried reading my story and felt so much closer to me, knowing that we shared a similar experience.
That feeling of empowerment has stuck with me for years.
After that blog post, I didn’t feel the need to write anymore. Once I said my piece and shared what was bottled up inside of me, I felt better. Over the next few years, I focused on my new career, moved a couple more times, and had another baby. I remembered to take care of myself and kept busy and distracted. All the while, the postpartum depression started to become a bad memory.
A couple years ago, I began to suffer badly from a condition called endometriosis. I wrote more about my battle with it here. The chronic pain caused a major relapse of my postpartum depression symptoms and I needed anti-depressants just to function. It was at this point that I realized – postpartum depression never really goes away.
While researching information about endometriosis, I came across a lot of information about maternal mental health. In all the years since I first suffered from postpartum depression, there didn’t seem to be any forward progress on the way women were treated or how it was talked about. There was still so much stigma and too many women dying or hiding their feelings. I just knew that I had to do something about that.
And so I began Running in Triangles. I knew that I wanted to start blogging about postpartum depression again but I put some more effort and forethought into what kind of site I wanted. This time, it wasn’t just about needing an outlet for my own feelings – it was about getting information and resources to the women who needed it the most.
If you would like to start blogging about postpartum depression, here’s what I recommend you do:
Step 1: Write Your Blog Posts
Yes, that’s right, start writing your blog posts before you even purchase your domain name. Having a few blog posts ready to publish as soon as your blog is active means a little less pressure on yourself to come up with new content regularly. It will also give your readers a few posts to read right away. Write them out using Microsoft Word or Google Docs so that you can easily cut and paste them once you’ve launched your blog.
Start by writing some sort of introduction about yourself. Tell your story – whether in depth or just a brief summary for now. But don’t be afraid to make it known that you are writing about your experience with postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, psychosis and/or whatever else ails you.
Think of your blog as a safe space. Share as many or as few details about yourself as you like. You can write under a “pen name” instead of using your own, or simply use your first name only. Blogging about postpartum depression can make a person feel vulnerable and requires a certain level of openness. Writing out what you want to say BEFORE launching a blog can help you to get comfortable with that.
Step 2: Purchase Web Hosting
A web hosting service is like your blog’s engine and it keeps everything running smoothly. Running in Triangles is hosted by Siteground, and I would definitely recommend it! The odd time I needed technical support, they were so helpful and quick to respond.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted blogging platform. It’s the exterior of your blog and the place where you publish content and make it look pretty.
If you’re computer illiterate and would prefer something all-in-one that’s already set up for you, and requires very little maintenance, then a basic platform like WordPress.com* or Blogger will work. You don’t need to purchase additional web hosting, but you will also be very limited in what you can do with it. Unless you go self-hosted, you won’t be able to monetize your site or add extra plug-ins to make it unique.
*Wordpress.com is different from WordPress.org, so don’t get the two confused. Check out this info-graphic that explains some of the major differences.
WordPress.org is actually very user friendly but it can feel intimidating at first. The first thing you will want to do is choose your theme. Your theme sets the tone for the way your site looks. WordPress.org offers a variety of free themes, but you can also purchase a custom made one on Etsy.
Thankfully, WordPress.org offers a lot of support for beginners. If you’re ever unsure of how to do something, check out their Getting Started Menu to find tutorials and answers to frequently asked questions.
Another design element that you will need for your blog is photos. Photos are a great way to get your message across and help break up long paragraphs of words. If you’re not much of a photographer, or would prefer to keep personal photos off the internet, then consider using free stock photo sites such as Unsplash, Splitshire, Pixabay or KaboomPics.
To edit your photos and create graphics for use on your website, use free image editing sites such as Canvaor PicMonkey.
Step 5: Network
The community of mental health bloggers is one of the most supportive ones you can find. You can expect to connect with others who have been through similar experiences, and they are generally pretty supportive no matter what your story is. Mental health bloggers don’t look at each other as competition and are always looking to share posts that speak the truth about mental health disorders. Whether you are blogging about postpartum depression, anxiety or another mood disorder – connect with the mental health community to help your voice be heard!
If you plan to recommend products and services that have helped you along your journey, then consider joining some affiliate programs. Check out Shareasale, CJ affiliates or Awin. If you’re serious about affiliate marketing and want to use it to monetize your blog, then I recommend taking theMaking Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. It contains everything you could possibly want to know about how to make affiliate marketing work for you.
Once you’ve started blogging about postpartum depression – come find me! I would be more than happy to share some of your links, add you to groups, and help you get in contact with mental health bloggers and networks. You don’t need to be alone in this and if you truly feel a desire to start speaking up about postpartum depression, I am here to help!
Leave a comment below with your blog URL and I’ll make sure to check it out!
Are you even a mother if you’re not constantly yelling at your kids for something? Getting mad at your kids or spouse is one thing, but postpartum rage is something entirely different.
Mothers who find themselves suffering from episodes of postpartum rage may feel like they are just unable to handle the everyday challenges of motherhood. Or perhaps they believe it’s a sign of trouble in their marriage and relationships. Maternal mental health disorders can have a tricky way of making mothers feel like they are failing. And postpartum rage is one of the scariest tricks yet.
Here’s what moms need to know about postpartum rage.
What is Postpartum Rage?
As the term suggests, it is classified as feelings of uncontrollable anger in a mother who has recently given birth. Usually set off by something insignificant (but also triggered by valid reasons), episodes of postpartum rage come on very suddenly and escalate quickly. They are generally out-of-character for most women and can be especially frightening to those around her.
In most cases, women do not get violent, but because postpartum rage is uncontrollable, it can manifest in violent ways such as throwing or breaking things, swearing, screaming or threatening to do something worse.
Postpartum rage is usually a by-product of a maternal mental health disorder such as postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD. Similar to anger management problems, postpartum rage is caused by an underlying issue that makes it difficult to control feelings of anger.
Rage vs. Anger
It’s called postpartum RAGE for a reason. It’s more than just anger or getting upset over something valid. It’s not deep-sighs of frustration or disappointment. It’s not “mom’s upset because we didn’t put our toys away.” It’s full-blown, blood-boiling, fist-clenching rage. How do you know if you’re suffering from postpartum rage and not just a hot temper?
Symptoms of Postpartum Rage
Reacting quickly and passionately over small things (like a spilled drink)
Heart races and blood pressure rises when you start to get upset
You cannot stop thinking bad thoughts about someone who wronged you
Feeling violent urges or imagining doing something violent to yourself or someone else
Screaming or swearing
Punching or throwing things
Unable to “snap out of it” and needing someone else to intervene
Inability to remember everything that happened during the outburst of rage
Immediately feeling regret or a flood of emotions afterwards
Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Depression (PPD)
If you’ve ever heard the expression “depression is anger turned inwards” then a link between postpartum depression and postpartum rage makes perfect sense. Sufferers of postpartum depression are usually seen as having very little energy, lethargic, sad and quiet. In many ways, the opposite of what we imagine when we hear the word “rage.”
Anger is actually a very common symptom of depression. Postpartum depression brings with it a lot of guilt and feelings of self-loathing or worthlessness. Mothers with postpartum depression tend to bottle up a lot of these unpleasant feelings. All of those bottled up emotions can, and will, eventually come out, often in the form of anger and rage.
Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Anxiety (PPA)
This is perhaps the most common combination of postpartum rage. Postpartum anxiety causes a mother to be worried, overwhelmed, and feel out of control, which easily opens the door to postpartum rage.
Postpartum anxiety can create situations of distrust and paranoia, which feeds the postpartum rage. The more situations a mother is placed in where she feels out of control or overwhelmed, the more opportunities postpartum rage has to prey on her soul. What’s worse is that simply knowing she is prone to episodes of rage can make her mental state much worse.
Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is similar to postpartum anxiety in that it leads a new mother to worry quite regularly. The difference is that with postpartum OCD, mothers become obsessed about doing something to the point where they can barely function if it isn’t done. For some women, it’s obsessively cleaning the house, washing their hands or bathing baby, but it can be any kind of obsessive behavior.
If a mother is unable to perform these tasks, it can lead her into a state of postpartum rage due to a loss of control. She may also be easily irritated and annoyed if she is interrupted while performing obsessive routines and will lash out in fits of rage.
Postpartum Rage + Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Stress is known to have all kinds of detrimental effects on the mind and body. Many mothers who suffered from PTSD after a traumatic pregnancy or delivery can develop postpartum rage.
This can stem from any resentment they may hold toward their experience. They may feel sorry for themselves and be unable to move past the traumatic events. Or, mothers with PTSD may feel hostile towards the doctors, nurses or anyone else who she believes may have contributed to her bad experience.
How to Manage It
Step 1: Remove yourself from the situation
As soon as you realize that you’ve lost control – walk away. It’s important to tell your spouse or partner what you’re going through so that they can intervene if necessary. Find or create a safe space in your home that you can escape to.
Step 2: Calm down
Take deep breaths, do some yoga stretches, have a drink of water, get some fresh air. Do whatever you need to do in order to calm yourself down and regain control again. Sniffing some calming essential oils are a great way to calm yourself down quickly.
Step 3: Find another outlet for your anger
Anger is an important emotion and while you want to keep the postpartum rage under control, it’s imperative that you find another way to express it. Exercise is a great way to burn off all the pent up energy, as well as getting outdoors or you could focus it towards something creative.
Since postpartum rage is a symptom of a bigger issue, it’s important to establish a treatment plan to get your maternal mental health back in good shape. Supplement your existing treatment plan with a proper self care routine that includes stress-relieving practices like yoga, acupressure or aromatherapy.
Track your moods
Keeping track of your moods can help you to avoid an episode of postpartum rage. By tracking the fluctuations in your mood on a regular basis, you can start to notice any specific patterns or triggers that cause you additional stress. Download a printable monthly mood tracker and keep it somewhere easily accessible so that you remember to track your mood each day.
Let it go
Stop holding grudges against people who have hurt or offended you. Let things that have happened in the past remain there. Dwelling on a bad situation will only encourage that rage, so learn to just let it all go. Practicing yoga or meditation, or writing things out can be a great way to release those feelings and let them go.
Replace rage with laughter
Anytime you feel like bursting out in a fit of rage, just start laughing instead. Yes, you will look like a crazy person – white walls, straight-jacket, insane asylum crazy person. Laughter can release that built up energy in the same way that rage can, but it’s less frightening and makes you feel something positive instead. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Avoid stressful situations
Stress is a big trigger for episodes of postpartum rage. Try to avoid being put into stressful situations. If it’s the bedtime routine that stresses you out, then maybe it’s time to start sleep training – or have someone else put the kids to bed. Stay away from online mom groups that discuss controversial topics and choose a support group instead. You may need to re-evaluate your job, financial situation and/or relationships to see what is causing your stress and find ways to make it better.
Postpartum rage can be a terrifying thing to deal with. It’s often misdirected towards spouses or children and can have an effect on those relationships. It’s important to understand that postpartum rage is a symptom of something bigger and make sure that your loved ones know that as well. The more everyone understands about maternal mental health issues, the easier it will be to recover from them and the less damage it will do to our lives.
If you find yourself suffering from regular outbursts of postpartum rage, make sure to speak to your doctor about them, even if you are already taking anti-depressants or some other form of treatment. Certain medications can make postpartum rage worse, so you may need to experiment with what works for you.
Endometriosis is a condition that plagues nearly 10% of women but is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.
Like postpartum depression, endometriosis is something that isn’t talked about enough. It causes a considerable amount of pain but so many women learn to live with it and don’t seek the proper treatment. And those who do seek help, are often told it’s nothing, because endometriosis doesn’t show up on ultrasounds or x-rays or ct scans.
While there is no link between endometriosis and postpartum depression, they do have a lot in common:
They are affected by hormones
They affect women in their childbearing years
They are under-diagnosed conditions
They are invisible diseases
They are stigmatized and need more awareness
Every women’s struggle with endometriosis is different, just like postpartum depression. Here is MY story…
It was a mere coincidence that both my endometriosis and postpartum depression were diagnosed at the same time, because the two conditions are not exactly linked to each other. But ever since that diagnosis, they have been intertwined throughout my journey of highs and lows.
It all began when my daughter was 5 months old. Actually, the postpartum depression symptoms had been going on for a few months already but I was still in denial.
We took a family trip to Disney World (both kids were still free to get in, so we thought we’d take advantage)! Despite exclusively breastfeeding, I got my first postpartum period – right there in the Magic Kingdom.
I was disappointed and annoyed but what else could I do, on this trip of a lifetime, but suck it up and waddle around in blood-soaked pants for the rest of the day?
The next day, we planned to go to Cocoa Beach. When you’re from the Canadian Prairies, trips to the ocean are few and far between, so I was definitely NOT missing out on it. I bought the biggest box of tampons I could find and tried my best to enjoy the day.
But the cramping was worse than labor pains and the bleeding was relentless.
I made it through that vacation but the following month was even worse. I probably wouldn’t have said anything to my doctor, except that it happened to fall on the same day as my daughter’s 6 month checkup.
I was lucky enough to have a great doctor with whom I already had a close relationship, and it was in that appointment that I broke down crying – overcome by the pain of the menstrual cramps and the dark place my mind had been in for the last 6 months.
Based solely on my symptoms, he figured it was endometriosis that was causing the pain and heavy bleeding. It was the first time I had ever heard the word. When he told me that it can cause infertility, I actually felt relieved because I had zero desire to have another baby. He gave me some samples of birth control pills and advised me to take them continuously in an effort to “skip” my periods.
Then we discussed the postpartum depression and came up with a treatment plan.
I was supposed to follow up with him in a few months to see how things were going. But by then, we had relocated for my husband’s job – a 9 hour drive away.
For a while, things were alright…
My mind was distracted by the move and I remembered to take my birth control pills everyday, avoiding the painful cramping that accompanied my periods.
Until I ran out of samples.
Trying to find a good doctor in a new town where I didn’t know anyone was tougher than I thought. So I chose to suffer instead. I loaded up on painkillers and wore adult diapers to soak up the extreme amounts of blood and just dealt with it.
With each month that passed, the pain got worse and worse. The cramping started earlier and lasted longer until I was only pain-free for one week each month. I turned to essential oils for help with the pain, but even their magic wasn’t strong enough.
The chronic pelvic pain exacerbated my postpartum depression symptoms.
I felt defeated by the pain. I didn’t feel like being strong or fighting through the pain – I hoped and prayed it would just kill me. I thought about how my daughter might someday experience this kind of pain, and I felt responsible for that. I felt like all I did was inflict pain on those around me, because I was also in pain. And I was certain that everyone would be happier, myself included, if I was just gone.
When my year of maternity leave was over, things got better.
I found a job that I loved and began to make friends. The daycare we chose for the kids was wonderful and they settled into it without any problems. I appreciated my children more because I cherished the short amount of time we had together each day instead of dreading the long hours of nothingness.
Finally, I was happy! I pushed through the endometriosis pain every month because I didn’t want anything to destroy my happiness.
But after a year of being happy and ignoring the pain – the pain pushed back.
I couldn’t ignore it anymore and eventually wound up in the emergency room. Much to everyone’s surprise – I was pregnant!I guess endometriosis doesn’t always cause infertility…
The anxiety began almost immediately. I didn’t want to go through another HG pregnancy and I definitely worried about dealing with the postpartum depression all over again. Plus we had just moved again, and hadn’t even bought a house yet.
Despite the exciting news, the pain was still there… worse even.
The doctors suspected a possible ectopic pregnancy and rushed me into emergency surgery.
When I woke up, I had mixed feelings about losing the baby. Part of me was relieved to avoid another tough pregnancy, but another part of me felt disappointed that I didn’t get another chance to make things right.
The next day, I found out I was still pregnant. The pregnancy was a healthy one, and there was nothing they could tell me about the endometriosis because they didn’t want to do anything to disturb the pregnancy.
And so I had my third child. I suffered from the worst case of hyperemesis gravidarum of all three pregnancies, but for a while, I didn’t have to worry about the menstrual pain. This time I did everything in my power to prepare myself for postpartum depression again but thankfully was spared from it. I was given a second chance! I immediately felt a bond with this baby and she made our family complete.
I had a good, solid 8 months of bliss with my happy baby before my first postpartum period arrived.
And, in true dream-crushing fashion, it came back on Christmas Eve so I spent most of that night hopped up on painkillers and hovering around the bathroom door in order to change my tampon every 30 minutes.
After another steady 8 months of pill popping, I missed another period.Oh no, not another pregnancy. It can’t be. I can’t do it again. But the tests were all negative…
My menstrual cycle finally had a nervous breakdown.
It would skip months for no reason and then come every other week. The pelvic pain got worse and it was no longer limited to my menstrual cycle – it was there 24/7. I ended up in the emergency room regularly looking for something to help with the pain. Nothing ever showed up on any of the tests, and I’m certain everyone thought I was a hypochondriac. Even though I was in an intense amount of pain, I started to wonder if they were right.
The pain triggered the postpartum depression again.
It didn’t help that I was now a stay-at-home-mom, living in a city with no friends or relatives to help me out. Between the darkness of postpartum depression and the pain of endometriosis, life was very bleak for nearly a full year.
I finally met with a specialist.
He instantly validated everything I was feeling and scheduled me for a diagnostic laparoscopy to find out what was going on inside of me. Since he wasn’t sure what he would find, he asked me to sign a form that stated he could perform a hysterectomy if he deemed it medically necessary. This way, I wouldn’t have to undergo two separate surgeries if I did need one.
We discussed the fact that a hysterectomy would be the worst-case scenario, and I signed the form without hesitation.
In the 6 weeks leading up to my surgery date, I bled continuously. I should have known then, that more was wrong under the surface than I wanted to admit. If I had, perhaps I would have been more prepared for what was ahead.
The surgery was supposed to be a laparoscopic day surgery on a Friday. My husband, kids and I made the 2 hour drive into the city, expecting to stay with family for the weekend and be back home by Monday.
But when I woke up from the surgery, I was told I would not be going home that day.
My doctor came in to see me, head hung, disappointment in his eyes. He rested his hand on mine and told me that this was the first time he’s ever had to convert from a laparoscopic surgery to an abdominal incision (minimally invasive surgery was his specialty).
And then he filled me in on what happened in surgery.
He had to remove my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and left ovary. He left the right ovary so that I would not go into menopause but everything else was stuck together with adhesions and needed to go. My reproductive organs were attached to the pelvic wall, bladder and bowels which he successfully separated, but there would be scar tissue remaining. The adhesions had re-routed my blood vessels and so he cut into one while attempting to perform the hysterectomy, causing me to lose nearly 4 units of blood and require a transfusion.
It was the “worst case scenario,” and I felt completely blindsided by what had just happened.
I ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days. Losing so much blood left me feeling weak and dizzy and moving around was almost impossible. Once I did get home to my own bed, I couldn’t leave. Walking up and down stairs was difficult and living in a 4 level split meant I was practically bedridden. Long after the scar healed, the pain inside my pelvis was excruciating. I was told to expect to be out of commission for a full 6 weeks but it took more like 8.
Dealing with the sudden loss of my uterus was difficult. Although I knew I didn’t want to have more children, I liked knowing that it was an option. I spent a lot of time thinking about my pregnancies and how the place where I grew my children and felt them move and kick was no longer there.
But once I recovered from the surgery, the constant pelvic pain that plagued me for years was finally gone. It was hard to believe that it was no longer there, I kept poking at it to see if it hurt but no – no more pain! And I never had to wear another giant tampon or adult diaper ever again.
Most days I forget that I no longer have a uterus. I still get some symptoms of PMS when my lonely ovary ovulates but it’s nearly impossible to track it without a menstrual cycle. The fluctuating hormones do still affect my postpartum depression symptoms and I have to take extra care of myself on those days, but otherwise, it’s no longer triggered by constant pain.
So while my battle with endometriosis, as well as my battle with postpartum depression, is over for now – they have changed who I am as a person.
They have both taken things away from me that I can never get back. They have killed a part of me inside and remain there, dormant, waiting for another opportunity to strike. I will do my best to take care of myself, to help others who are suffering, and to raise awareness about these two important issues, so that if and when they ever do decide to rear their ugly heads again – I will be ready to fight back.
Postpartum depression, as common as it might be, is widely misunderstood.
No one knows for certain exactly why mothers get postpartum depression and many aren’t even aware of the symptoms. If there was less stigma and more mothers felt comfortable enough to speak up about their postpartum depression, perhaps the rest of the world would know about it and find ways to help.
Here’s a list of 10 things that mothers with postpartum depression want you to know.
1. We Are Not Bad Mothers
Mothers with postpartum depression are not prone to hurting their babies. While there have been cases that ended in tragedy – many of those mothers were suffering from postpartum psychosis, which is a much more serious condition.
We might be seen as “bad” mothers because we didn’t bond with our babies right away, or we seem withdrawn from them or avoid holding them. These are common symptoms of postpartum depression but it does not mean that we want to harm our child or that we don’t love them as much.
If anything, postpartum depression makes us stronger mothers because we have to fight harder to build a mother-child relationship.
You don’t need to take our babies away from us or be concerned about leaving us alone with them. If we come to you for help and admit what we are feeling – that makes us a better mother, not a bad one.
2. It’s Not In Our Head
Postpartum depression is not just a psychological issue – it’s physical pain, it’s chemical imbalances, it’s uncontrollable hormones. It’s a total body experience and not just something we imagine.
Positive thinking alone will not get rid of postpartum depression. It’s important to stay positive to help reduce stress which is a big trigger for symptoms, but there is so much more to it than that. Many women suffer from disruptions in sleep and appetite, headaches and back pains from stress and tension, nausea and debilitating fatigue.
It might be called a mental illness, but the pain is never just “in our head.”
3. Nothing We Did Caused This
Postpartum depression is NOT our fault. A traumatic labor , breastfeeding problems or lack of support are out of our control and not something that we did wrong or could have avoided. It’s natural to want to find an explanation for what we’re going through and it’s easy to look back on our pregnancies and deliveries and find something to blame for the mess.
While there are several different risk factors that can increase your chances of having postpartum depression, the truth is – even a women with the happiest of pregnancies, easiest of deliveries and biggest support system could still be diagnosed with postpartum depression. It does not discriminate.
There are plenty of treatment options and ways to control the symptoms but we will never be the same person we were before postpartum depression.
Anti-depressants, therapy, self-care, yoga and meditation, etc., are all important for helping with the symptoms but they will not make postpartum depression go away permanently. Some women can control their symptoms better than others, but no matter what, we will all have to live with the darkness inside of us for the rest of our lives.
If we’re not careful about following our treatment plans, we could suffer a relapse.
5. It Can Be Invisible
Just because we don’t seem depressed doesn’t mean we’re not suffering inside. Postpartum depression can be an invisible disease, which means we don’t have a giant scar or walk with a limp but we are in just as much pain. Mothers with postpartum depression have gotten very good at putting on a smile to hide the pain and avoid the awkward questions.
Postpartum psychosis leads a mother to have hallucinations and hear voices in their heads. They are often a danger to themselves and those around them, including their children, because of their unpredictable behavior. They are not aware of what they are doing, and if left untreated – can end in tragedy.
Postpartum depression can manifest itself in different ways.Fits of uncontrollable rage is a lesser known symptom and can cause a lot of strain on relationships.
When we are riding the emotional roller coaster that is postpartum depression, it’s easy to lose control and lash out. But until our symptoms are under control with a proper treatment plan, it’s best not to take the things we say and do personally.
The urge to push people away and withdraw into ourselves is strong with postpartum depression, but that doesn’t mean it’s what we actually want.
8. It’s easier to talk to strangers
Please don’t feel offended if we don’t want to talk to you about what we’re going through. It’s much easier to talk to strangers who have been through it before, such as a therapist or online support group.
They understand what we mean and won’t judge us. We know you don’t mean to judge us, but unless you know what it feels like to be inside the head of a crazy person, you couldn’t possibly understand.
Even if we don’t want to talk to you, we still need your help to get through this. Postpartum depression is a tough fight and it’s even harder to fight alone. There are so many ways that you can help us, but it’s very hard for us to tell you what they are. The biggest way that you can help us is by trying to understand what we’re going through.
And even if you don’t understand, stand by us and support us no matter what.
10. Please Don’t Abandon Us
Mothers with postpartum depression make for some of the worst company. We’re weepy and emotional. We rarely smile or laugh. We’re tired all the time, or angry and annoyed. We dodge your phone calls and cancel dinner plans. We don’t blame you for not wanting to hang out with us…
Withdrawing from society is a major symptom of postpartum depression and it’s out of our control.
But we hope that, when we do finally feel better, you will still be there waiting for us on the other side of the darkness.